Nuig Dissertation Handbook 2014

Second Year

Welcome to Second Year History

Structure of Second Year

Second-Year History course has no core modules: you are free to choose themes, countries and topics which interest you. There are, however, some limits to your choices, and these are outlined below.‌

This web-page is mainly concerned with students taking Joint Honours History (i.e. History with one other Arts subject). ‌There are different requirements for those taking Single Honours History -  such students should check the BA History (Single Honours) 2nd Year webpage.

Course Structure  

  • You must take modules totalling 15 ECTS each semester, making 30 ECTS for the year.
  • You must take one colloquium module (10 ECTS) and four lecture modules (5 ECTS each).
  • You must take at least one lecture module from each of our three time periods: medieval, early modern and modern.

The Colloquia involve small-group teaching, with the classes capped at about 25 students. The Colloquia are assessed by a mixture of continuous assessment (including mandatory attendance at class, and an oral presentation), and a mini-dissertation (4,000 words) due after the end of semester. The Colloquium Modules are worth 10ECTS, twice as much as each Lecture Module. Colloquia choice and allocation takes place at the beginning of term.

You take THREE Lecture Modules in one semester, and ONE Lecture Module (which must be assessed by examination) PLUS a COLLOQUIUM in the other semester. Which semester is which depends on your choice of Colloquium module. You need to fill out a Colloquium Sign-Up sheet during the first week of first semester, indicating your preference.

Over the year as a whole, you must take a chronological range of Lecture Modules. This is to ensure that you study a broad range of periods and topics. (If you want to specialise in a particular period, you will have to wait until Final Year!)

BA CONNECT Module Choices

BA CONNECT students do 10 ECTS of their BA CONNECT specialty and 25 ECTS in each of their two B.A. subjects in 2nd year.  The structure for module choice for B.A. Connect students is slightly different, but it ensures that B.A. Connect students do not miss any aspect or area of the 2nd year History course.

 All 2nd year History students are required to do a Colloquium, an Ancient/Medieval module, an Early Modern module and a Modern module. 

For BA CONNECT students, this means that you will do your colloquium  (10 ECTS) in one semester and your three lecture modules in the other. So BA Connect Student choices are as follows:

Semester  1




Semester  2

Lecture Module
in Early Modern History

Lecture Module
in Modern History

Lecture Module
in Medieval or Ancient History


Semester  1

Lecture Module
in Early Modern History

Lecture Module
in Modern History

Lecture Module
in Medieval History

Semester  2





If you have any problem with the structure above due to clashes with your other subject, please contact Dr. Niall Ó Ciosáin at   

Module Assessment

Colloquia are assessed with marks for participation, presentation and extended essay.  Attendance is compulsory and non-attendance for more than 3 sessions without sufficient excuse will affect the mark.


For a description of the module, click on the module number.


COLLOQUIA (10 ECTS You take one Colloquium over the year)

  • HI295 The American Civil War: Causes & Consequences - Enrico Dal Lago
  • HI2121: Studies in Modern History I: Irish America in the 19th Century - Cathal Smith
  • HI2117: Studies in Early Modern History I: Social and Cultural change in 17th century Ireland - Mark Empey
  • HI166 Ireland in the 1950s - Tomas Finn

You take 4 lecture modules, 1 in the semester in which you are doing your Colloquium and three (1 from each panel: Medieval, Early Modern and Modern) in the other semester)

  • HI229  Medieval Europe c. 5th - 9th century - Christopher Doyle   
Early Modern
  • HI2110 Making Ireland English, 1580-1665 - Pádraig Lenihan
  • HI267 Reformation Europe - Alison Forrestal
  • HI492  The Family in Modern Ireland ; Sarah-Anne Buckley
  • HI2123  Life and Death in Victorian Britain -  Laurence Marley


COLLOQUIA (10 ECTS You take one Colloquium over the year)

  • HI494 British Social Movements from 1945-1990 - Sarah-Anne Buckley
  • HI2103 Monarchy & Society in Early Century France  - Alison Forrestal
  • HI2113 The Making & Breaking of Britain in the 20th Century -  Tomás Finn
  • HI572  Irish Ideologies and Activists, 1905-16 - TBC
  • HI465 European Encounteres with the Mongols - Kimberly LoPrete

LECTURE MODULES (5 ECTS  you take 4 lecture modules, 1 in the semester in which you are doing your Colloquium and three (1 from each panel: Medieval, Early Modern and Modern) in the other semester)

  • HI262  Medieval Europe c. 1050-1250 -  Kimberly LoPrete 
  • HI211 Early Medieval Ireland, C. 5th-9th century - Máirín Mc Carron
Early Modern
  • HI204 18th Century Ireland, 1691-1801 - Pádraig Lenihan
  • HI459 The Tudors: Religion, State & Society - Mark Empey
  • HI2102  The Modern United States, 1865-2008 -  Enrico Dal Lago
  • HI170 Europe, 1918-1999 - Gearóid Barry



 COLLOQUIA (10 ects)

HI166:  Ireland in the 1950s
Dr Tomás Finn
This colloquium examines perceptions of the 1950s in Ireland as a lost decade. It considers the economic stagnation from which the country suffered but also looks at the emergence of a culture of inquiry and many of the policies that shaped contemporary Ireland.

 HI295:  The American Civil War: Causes and Developments
Dr Enrico Dal Lago
This colloquium will introduce students to the American Civil War, which between 1861 and 1865 caused more than 600,000 dead, destroyed the lives of an entire generation, and led to the emancipation of 4,000,000 African American slaves. Through the analysis of key documents –ranging from South Carolina’s Declaration of the Causes of Secession to Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – and through the reading of writings by key historians, students will familiarize with the main issues of contention in the American Civil War and with the different scholarly interpretations of them.

Michael Perman, eds., Major problems in the Civil War and Reconstruction (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2nd edition 1998).

HI2121 Studies in Modern History.I: The African-American Civil Rights Movements, 1954-1968
Dr Ronán De Bhaldraithe
This colloquium explores the African-American civil rights movements in the period 1954-1968. It examines the changes within the movements during this period as well as the differences between the movements’ focus in the Southern and Northern states, from voter registration drives in the rural South to the Black Panther’s “Ten Point Program” in California. The course will emphasise the role of people such as Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King, Jr., Stokely Carmichael, and Malcolm X., while also highlighting the stories of lesser known individuals in regional movements. Using primary sources such as poems, songs, legal documents and pamphlets as well as a wide range of secondary sources, students will discuss the main social, cultural, political and economic problems facing African-Americans in the United States in this period.

HI2117 Studies in Early Modern History.I: Social & Cultural Changes in 17th-century Ireland
Dr Mark Empey

Note: you cannot take both HI2110 and this module.

Approaches to seventeenth-century Irish history for the most part are analysed along political and religious lines. The period has been characterised as ‘the war of religions’ and ‘an age of disruption’. However, such an outlook is limited in its assessment because it overlooks social and cultural aspects that were hugely significant in the development of Irish society.

This course, therefore, examines the problem of social and cultural change through the lens of governance. At the heart of this will be exploring the views and ideas of various groups within the Irish polity, specifically how society and government was to be organised and how those ideas related to, and conflicted with, each other. The course will be structured by devoting a week to each decade of the seventeenth century. Each decade contains its own problems that students will examine and analyse. Lectures will establish a narrative framework while seminars will discuss selected texts in greater detail.

Introductory Reading:
Raymond Gillespie, Seventeenth-century Ireland (Dublin, 2006)
Nicholas Canny, Making Ireland British, 1580-1650 (Oxford, 2001)
Pádraig Lenihan, Consolidating conquest: IReland 1603-1727 (Harlow, 2008)

LECTURES (5ects)

HI229 Medieval Europe, c. 5th - 9th century
Dr Christopher Doyle
This module comprises a survey of the history, politics, culture, and society of Western Europe in the EarlyMiddle Ages (from c. AD 400 to c. AD 800), and traces the transition from Late Antiquity to the so-called'barbarian' kingdoms of France, Germany, Spain and Italy in the period sometimes called the 'Dark Ages'.The lectures cover such themes as law and institutions in Late Roman Gaul and in the barbarian kingdoms;politics and society; literature and culture; the role of the church and its evolution, and the general questionof how 'The First Europe' came into existence. Students are introduced to some of the original documentaryand archaeological material used by historians of the period.

HI2110 Making Ireland English, 1580-1665                                                                      Early Modern
Dr Pádraig Lenihan

(Note: you cannot take both HI2117 (colloquium) and this module.)

This is a survey lecture module designed to introduce students to debates and interpretations surrounding the formative political, economic, military and social events and themes of early modern Ireland. The survey takes as its organizing grand narrative the multifaceted conflicts between a centralizing Tudor and Stuart state and local or native elites be they Gaelic, Old English, Irish, or ‘English of Ireland’.

HI267:  Reformation Europe                                                                                                  Early Modern
Dr Alison Forrestal
At the beginning of the sixteenth century, western Europeans shared a common religious identity as members of the catholic church. By 1563, European society had altered irrevocably, with the unity wrought by religious affiliation replaced by an array of conflicting churches and sects. This period, commonly known as the Reformation, was an era of unprecedented change in European history, with enormous and enduring significance for the political and cultural development of Europe. ‘Reformation Europe’ will trace the inauspicious beginnings of the Reformation in 1517, when the scholarly monk Martin Luther defied pope and emperor by refusing to retract his criticisms of catholic doctrines and devotions, such as indulgences. It will examine the origins of the protest, asking what longer term political, cultural and social trends contributed to its outbreak, and transformed an isolated intellectual debate into a revolution. It will also trace the rapid growth of support for dissent and reform, followed by the radicalisation and fragmentation of the new movement as it spread across the German lands, and into England and Scotland, Switzerland and France. The political and social implications of the Reformation were thrashed out in revolts and wars, such as the Peasants’ Revolt (1524), and the French civil wars (1562), which will form case studies in the module.

HI2123:  Life and Death in Victorian Britain                                                                    Modern
Dr Laurence Marley
This lecture module provides a survey of the social and cultural history of Britain in the long nineteenth century. This was an age that transformed everyday life through the unprecedented and celebrated expansion of trade, transport, communications and empire. But it was also one that witnessed grinding child labour, draconian workhouses, pathologies and neuroses associated with rail travel and scientific innovation, poor sanitation and deadly diseases, and the Victorian 'invention' of death.

HI492 The Family in Modern Ireland
Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley
This course aims to introduce students to the history of family and childhood in Ireland from the pre-famine period to the present. Thematic rather than chronological, it will look at key moments in Irish history in which definitions of family, childhood and parental rights have been re-negotiated due to social, political and economic factors. Although primarily concerned with the twentieth century, the situation in the nineteenth century will also be addressed in order to establish changes and developments. After an initial introduction to theoretical approaches to the history of family and childhood, the impact of the famine on both will be briefly addressed, particularly with regard to changes in family structure and land distribution. In both the nineteenth and twentieth century, the importance of emigration, poverty, class and gender to the experience of family life and childhood, as well as the differences between urban and rural experiences will be addressed. From the late nineteenth-century, the role of organisations such as the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) in shaping family life will be examined, as will the affect of the 1908 Children’s Act on parental rights. In Independent Ireland, the role of the Catholic Church and State in defining acceptable family structures through education, welfare provision and legislation will be looked at. Under Article 41.1 of the 1937 Irish constitution (Bunreacht na hÉireann),the Irish State promised to ‘protect the Family’ by recognizing it as having ‘inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law’. This course will assess whether this was the case, by looking at the experience of family life for working-class, middle-class and upper-class families. Over the last 15 years, cases of abuse in industrial schools, Magdalen laundries, orphanages and numerous other institutions run by the State and churches have emerged. This course will look at the situation for unmarried mothers and ‘illegitimate’ children, the use of institutionalisation by the State to protect its traditional structures, the treatment of domestic violence and the importance of second-wave feminism and entry to the EEC for women and children in Ireland. Finally, it will examine the contemporary family structure in Ireland, as well as representations of family and childhood in film and memoir


 COLLOQUIA (10 ects)

HI2103:  Monarchy and Society in Early Seventeenth-Century France
Dr Alison Forrestal
The beginning of the seventeenth century heralded a new era for the kingdom of France: after four decades of civil war a new dynasty of Bourbon kings took power, and wielded it until the French Revolution. This colloquium examines the reigns of Louis XVI’s predecessors, Louis XIII and his son Louis XIV (the ‘Sun King of Versailles’) from 1610 to 1661. It focuses on the political and social challenges involved in asserting the ‘absolute’ authority of the new regime, and examines the claim that the political and social roots of the French Revolution lay in these periods of rule. Knowledge of the French language is not required, since readings (documents and secondary sources) on the workings of the royal court, popular revolts, noble faction and rebellion, etc. will be provided in translation.

 HI2113:  Making and Breaking of Britain in the Twentieth Century
Dr Tomás Finn
This colloquium asks what it means to be British. The twentieth century ended with the opening of the National Assembly of Wales and a parliament in Scotland. These were in many ways unexpected and unlikely events. It was Scotland’s first parliament for 300 years and the first in Wales for almost 600 years. This colloquium considers the factors that led to their establishment and may in turn lead to the break-up of Britain, along with the ties that continue to unite the country. It examines not just the question of national identity especially for the Scots and Welsh, but also the phenomenon of English nationalism. Topics include the impact of two world wars, the decline of the British Empire, economic challenges, the European Union and the political awakening of both women and the working classes. By considering the long and short term factors that led to devolution, this colloquium helps us to understand what it is to be English, Welsh and Scottish within a British context.

HI572  Irish Ideologies and Activists, 1905-16
This colloquium focuses on prominent Irish nationalist, republican, unionist, feminist and socialist figures of the period. It examines their writings, relating them to their Irish and international contexts. It considers their use of the mosquito press, demonstrations, agitprop and other means of conveying their message and assesses their impact.

 HI494 British Social Movements from 1945-1990
Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley
From 1945, Britain's political and cultural landscape has been changed by social movements campaigning on issues of gender, race, disability, sexuality, the environment, and peace. This colloquium will address these movements, while also assessing the extent to which they resulted in political, social and economic change. From early attempts to decriminalize gay sex to the movement against globalization, this course will look at a range of topics previously neglected by historians of post-war Britain. In doing so, it will question not only the radicalism of individual movements, but how they fragmented in the 1980s and the extent to which they affected the political agenda.

HI465 European Encounters with the Mongols
Dr Kimberly Lo Prete
This Colloquium examines Europeans’ encounters with the Mongols from the initial shock and outrageous rumours after the Mongols’ destructive attacks on central European cities in the 1240s to the studied attempts--through ‘fact-finding’ and other diplomatic embassies--both to acquire accurate knowledge of the Mongols’ way of life and to forge alliances with some of them against the Muslim powers of the middle east. Emphasis will be on the considered discussion of contemporary reports, most notably those by the papal envoy John of 'Planus Carpinus' and by William of Rubruck, sent by the French king Louis IX, in attempts to see how knowledge of the Mongols and central Asia affected Europeans’ views of themselves and their wider world.

LECTURES (5 ects)

HI262:  Medieval Europe c. 1050-1250                                                                              Medieval
Dr Kimberly LoPrete
This survey lecture module introduces students to key actors, events and ideas that shaped culture, politics and religious affairs in the central middle ages—a period that saw great experimentation and expansion followed by the development of legal and administrative structures to centralise monarchs’ powers in both ‘church’ and ‘states’. Topics treated in lectures include how lordship shaped knightly, clerical, peasant and burgess communities; papal reform and Christian kingship; the Norman impact in England and south Italy; ‘reconquista’ and the first crusade; new religious movements, both orthodox and heterodox; the rise of universities. Lectures are complemented by the discussion in tutorials of primary sources devoted to such themes as medieval warfare; the relations of kings and prelates; the charismatic religious figures Peter Waldo and Francis of Assisi; the purpose and reach of inquisitors; and legal compilations like the canons of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), Magna Carta (1215) and the Constitutions of Melfi (1231).

HI211:  Medieval Ireland 5th-9th century                                                                       Medieval
Dr Máirín McCarron
This lecture module comprises a survey of the history, politics, culture, literature and society of Ireland in the Early Middle Ages (from c. AD 400 to c. AD 800). It traces the transition from a so-called 'tribal' society to one in which 'dynastic' politics are the norm, and explains how that change is reflected in society. It ends with an assessment of the Viking impact in Ireland. The lectures cover such themes as Early Irish (Brehon) law and institutions; politics and society; the origins of Irish artistic and literary culture; the beginnings of Christianity and the later evolution of the Irish Church; the Irish abroad, and the Vikings. Students are introduced to some of the original documentary material used by historians.

HI204 18th Century Ireland, 1691-1801
Pádraig Lenihan
This course is a survey of Irish history in the period from the articles of Limerick to the Act of Union. It aims to introduce students to salient developments in the spheres of government, society and the economy while paying particular attention to the identities of the three main religious communities and the ways in which these evolved during the eighteenth century. Topics that will be explored include the relationship between the Irish political nation and British government; the significance of Catholic Jacobitism; and the political dimension of Protestant Dissent. The course also aims to acquaint students with current historiographical debates on such issues as Penal legislation; Anglo-Irish patriotism; politicisation in the 1790s; and the applicability of ‘colonial’ and/or ‘ancien régime’ models in the context of eighteenth-century Ireland.

 HI459 The Tudors: Religion, State & Society                                                                  Early Modern
Dr Mark Empey
When Elizabeth I died in 1603 the Tudor state had overseen a remarkable change since Henry VII assumed the throne in 1485. Far from the medieval structures inherited by Henry the government under Elizabeth was noticeably more stable and powerful. Control over Ireland, Wales and northern England had been secured with the establishment of regional administrations, the head of the Church was no longer the pope but instead it was the monarch of England who assumed the title of 'supreme governor', and society had become distinctly peaceful, gentry-dominated and 'civil' with the result that traditional social structures were being challenged. This course will examine various political, religious and social aspects including themes such as the restoration of government, the Tudor revolution and the break with Rome, the mid-Tudor crisis, economic and social change, the Elizabethan settlement and Tudor foreign policy.

Introductory Reading:
Steven Ellis, The making of the British Isles: the state of Britain and Ireland, 1450-1660 (Harlow, 2007)
John Guy, Tudor England (Oxford, 1988)
Christopher Haigh, English reformations: religion, politics, and society under the Tudors (Oxford, 1993)

 HI170:  Europe, 1919-89                                                                                                           Modern
Dr Gearóid Barry
This is a survey lecture module of politics and society across Europe since the First World War. It will pay special attention to key states such as Germany, France and the Soviet Union and key themes such as the role of political ideology, ethnic conflict, decolonization and the process of European integration. Students will be exposed to a broad range of historiographical interpretations, seeking to a give a holistic overview that does not excessively privilege Western Europe or the totalitarian states.

 HI2102:  The Modern United States, 1865-2008                                                            Modern
Dr Enrico Dal Lago
This lecture module will introduce students to the history and historiography of the United States between the end of the Civil War and the last presidential elections. Specific themes will include racial politics in the U.S. South, expansion into the West, industrialization, imperialism, the two world wars and the making of the U.S. global power, the Cold War, the 1960s with the Civil Rights Movement, the student protest, and Vietnam, and finally the long conservative backlash from Nixon to Bush, Jr.

Head of Second Year History

Dr Enrico Dal Lago |  | 091 493546 

Is there a Thesis word-count?

IT Online does not specify a word-count but some advisors do specify one so please check with your advisor.

At Master's level, that is your responsibility. You must constantly check back with your advisor to ensure they are happy with your plans.

In general terms, quality is the important thing. Sometimes when a word-count is specified, a student dwells too much on reaching that count (or cutting back to get to it). Instead, if you feel you're nearly there, consider these points:

  • Can you stand back from your thesis and say you’re happy with the content in each section?
  • Are you happy that you have answered the question that you set out to answer in your research?
  • Have you requested, received, and applied feedback from your advisor on each section of your thesis?
  • Is your advisor also satisfied with your work?

If that’s the case – great.

As an approximate guideline, theses over the years have varied from 75-120 pages.

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